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After using soaps, we rinse our hands with water.

Do bacteria from the water attach themselves to our hands again?

If we wipe our hands to cloth after washing our hands, do bacteria from the cloth also attach to our hands?

Or, do antibacterial substances remain on our skin and, in a sense, 'protect' us from bacteria in a given amount of time?

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  • $\begingroup$ These are at least two different questions. Some antibacterials used in sanitizers remain on our skin for a time; others (like alcohol) just evaporate. In general, though, they don't protect us from bacteria we will encounter, but rather are formulated to destroy pathogens already on our hands so that we don't then transfer those pathogens to others or to the useal entry points on ourselves (e.g. eyes.) $\endgroup$ Apr 8 '16 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ Additionally: Bacteria belong to the surface of a healthy skin. This is perfectly normal, so you usually need only normal soap. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Apr 8 '16 at 6:47
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    $\begingroup$ Chris's comment above can't be emphasized enough. Regular soap is enough to remove dirt and other contamination from our skin, which is where pathogens often are. Anti-bacterial compounds are not needed, as the contaminants are physically removed from the skin with appropriate washing techniques. The artificially-created hype about having to "sanitize" and "disinfect" everything is nonsense - bacteria and viruses are on and around us all the time. Overuse of substances like triclosan just lead to the build-up of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the environment. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Apr 8 '16 at 15:08
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After using soap, the pathogens that were previously present in hands are removed by the soap and water. But yes, bacteria from the water do attach themselves to our hands again, for that we should wash our hands with clean water, which may not be sterile but at least free from pathogens. Also if we wipe our hands to cloth after washing, the bacteria that may be present in the cloth adhere itself to human hands. The attachment of bacteria depends on the concentration of microbes, increase in microbial count increases the probability and risk of contamination. Unfortunately antibacterial soaps that use triclosan may kill more microorganisms while washing hands, but then they can't "protect us" from bacteria for some longer periods of time. Also it has been found that antibacterial soaps have the potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and some may even cause allergies.

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Do bacteria from the water attach themselves to our hands again?

Yes if the water does contain bacteria. Also, the chance that your hands will get contaminated is directly dependent on the concentration of bacteria in the water.

If we wipe our hands to cloth after washing our hands, do bacteria from the cloth also attach to our hands?

Same as with the water, if the clothes do contain bacteria when you touch them your hands get contaminated!

Or, do antibacterial substances remain on our skin and, in a sense, 'protect' us from bacteria in a given amount of time?

Unless you are talking about some specific fancy soap, the answer is NO, washing your hands with common soap will wipe out most (not all) of the bacteria from your hands but it will not give you any long-time protection against them.

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